Conversations about ‘Resilience’ with Charlotte Underwood
Tackling a Sensitive Subject with our Wisdom About Suicidal Feelings
The latest blog post is one about a serious mental health topic. Written by Charlotte Underwood – a growing mental health advocate – on the topic of ‘resilience,’ our conversation evolved in such a way that we decided to use all of it to highlight some amazing insights from her journey. What I love about Charlotte is that she speaks her truth from her relatable – and really, very bravely and vulnerably described – experience, and she has a goal of carving a world where the mental health stigma is no more. She is really very inspiring!
So, with similar aims of wanting to people to see that they aren’t broken and that there is really nothing to ‘fix’, I wanted to offer some questions back to her, when we had this conversation, as to how I also saw her story – from a kind of ‘mentoring’ perspective – but bear in mind that this is just to hightlight that we are all capable of insights as the answers are within. Dealing with suicidal feelings is not a light subject matter, and we’re by no means suggesting that it is easy to ‘snap out of’, because whilst you’re in it it can feel very real and scary. But, we hope that these insights can help give hope, and help you see that we can dip in and out of our thinking and feeling in any moment, even when it feels dark; things are temporary and will pass – even when it doesn’t feel like it.
We have included both sides of the conversations so you can see the interweaving of different perspectives on the issues presented and help you make sense of the truth of how life really works. I was a bit nervous as I really hoped Charlotte could see what I was trying to say, rather than seeing me as challenging her truth and being flippant – and she did – it turns out we are on the same page! So, if you are suffering, firstly, you are not alone and we see you – the real, beautiful, whole and perfect you. Please hear this as a story of hope. Here is Charlotte’s beautiful writing, mixed with some of my own insights… Enjoy the read!
Resilience: by Charlotte Underwood
Charlotte’s Insights: What is ‘resilience’? The Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Honestly, I think that is darn beautiful and a noun that can be used to describe each and every one of us.
I can’t say that I have had an easy life; I’ve jumped many hurdles, survived many fires and danced in the face of fate. There are times when I’ve bathed in wreckless romance and times I have wanted to just end it all. I am not sure I ever expected to make it past 20 – I thought I’d end it, or die from liver failure from all the substance abuse; yet here I am – at age 22 – stronger than ever.
Regardless of who we are, or what we have, all of us will end up feeling we are fighting a battle of sorts. The overwhelming plague of stress will seemingly swamp us all and, some of us, well – it’ll leave us worse for wear. So, how do we stand up when we have fallen down and it seems our legs no longer work?
Pointing Back to Your Truth
I love that you see how very strong you are! You have lived through some astounding things. I wonder, if you consider how we are always living in our ‘thoughts’ about life, and that these create our feelings – for example – the feeling that we are ‘fighting a battle,’ whether some of this thinking might drop away? I used to see myself as ‘fighting’ the world because of my struggles, but, you know – I recently heard something different…
The Universe Has a Plan
I heard that the universe has a plan for us if we can learn to trust it – and that we are already whole. You might notice that the fact you felt you ‘struggled’ was OK because it led you to see the beautiful, strong, inspiring person you are today. This is your truthful gift to the world, but it became visible to you – you became conscious of it – because of your feelings of struggle. It felt overwhelming, at the time, when you were in it, but underneath that was the truthful, resilient being that you really are! You are an inspiration to so many people; that is not struggle – that is the truth underneath the thinking that there is a ‘fight’ to fight.
You are Perfect
This is who you were meant to be, and I wonder, therefore, if the battle is instead an illusion? Does this make sense as I wanted to explain how I saw it in case if helped? You are still standing – an inspiring, legs-still-working, beautiful, whole being. It feels overwhelming in moments, but underneath the thinking that it is overwhelming, you are just perfect.
Charlotte’s Insights (continued): Honestly, I do not have the answers, I do not know the cure and I am not sure there is one. Also, there is no reason to believe that we should completely ignore the thoughts inside our heads, as scary as they may be, they are part of us, they help us learn and grow; but we can tame them.
We Are Human – And Humans ‘Think’
I absolutely agree that our thoughts can be scary – and they are part of being human and like you say they are a constant source of learning! I LOVE this wisdom, thank you!
Do We Even Need ‘Fixing’?
Does there need to be a ‘cure’ or an ‘answer?’ I’m not sure we need one as much as anyone in society says we do because I think if we can just understand how life works, we will remember we are always OK underneath our ‘thoughts.’ Can we watch our thoughts, rolling through, knowing they are just thoughts? Allowing the gentle unfolding of life? Embracing the amazing creativity of our minds – even in their ability to create such horrible thoughts at times – even in our darkness can we see this as the astounding capacity we have to be creative? Can we see how our thoughts impact our feelings, and know that some of these thoughts aren’t always truth? Can we add a pause in between our thinking and our action, and see what clarity emerges underneath – like watching clouds in a blue sky clear to reveal the beautiful reality that we are always OK?
Charlotte’s Insights: I remember April of 2014, I was months into losing my Father to suicide. I was lying in my bed, after a day which was neither good nor bad, and yet – all of a sudden – I had this feeling stirring in me; it couldn’t be ignored. I kept thinking about the rector’s words at the funeral, that one day I will be reunited with my Father. I felt so broken that I did not want to wait till my inevitable death – I just wanted to see my Dad; I wanted to hear his voice and have a hug, one more time.
I was in a sense of shock, a part of grief that manifested in a numb-like state, resulting in a lot of bad behaviour. I felt like I had literally lost the will to live. So, when I had this ‘voice’ in my head, telling me that life was not worth the pain and I would be happier at rest, I felt like I couldn’t push it away because I thought I wanted it.
I was tired; my body was going through so much – everyone was. I called a few friends and no one answered – thought this was a ‘sign’ – that it was fate that on this night, I should end my life and all of this would be over. How do you recover from that, I wondered? The memories of lying in a hospital bed – watching the clock as if time was frozen – not knowing if I would live. But I survived.
I thought – feared – that I would try again – I thought that my life might only end that way, in the hands of my own. But, I was wrong. I am resiliant. Today, I am sitting next to my husband as he sleeps, I have my dog on my lap and I am writing as I feel safe in a place that I call my home. I have a life that makes me content, and curious of my future: I am hopeful.
You Are Brave, Wise & Whole
Wow, this powerful felt experience had tears rolling down my eyes. You are so brave and full of so much love. I don’t know if you realise, but there is so much wisdom in here for the tender age of 22, that this just shows how resilient you really are! One thing you need to know is that even though it felt like it at the time, you are never broken. You only thought you were; underneath that thinking, was the ‘you’ that you were born as – perfectly whole.
You Innately Knew You Were OK
Your description of it being a day that was ‘neither good nor bad’ is so interesting because I question whether it is our ‘thinking’ which can seem to determine a good or bad day? Can it be a Good day with Bad thinking, and can it be a Bad day with Good thinking? The fact that you had suicidal thinking and, yet, it wasn’t necessarily a bad day has a profound impact on my understanding of life through thought. Underneath this convincing powerful thought that you needed to end things, you were still able to appreciate that you were actually OK enough to not be having a bad day.
You Are a Creative Survivor
The felt experience of an impulse being really convincing can feel so real, and yet you saw that you survived it. More than that, you ‘thought’ you might try again one day – and so you were perhaps fearful of a ‘relapse,’ because you believed your thinking. Our minds are so creative. And wow, isn’t that creativity a talent to be blessed with when used in your writing?
Home is Within You
The clarity, the real, underlying absolute truth is that in THIS moment, you are sitting next to your sleeping husband, you are with your beautiful dog, and you are safe. Underneath all of your thinking, you are home. And that, beautiful soul, is because ‘home’ is within you, not outside. Underneath all of your thinking, that place you call ‘home’ – that settled feeling; it is all YOU. You are the ‘hope.’ You are the ‘safe place,’ you are the ‘contentment.’ And, if it is all ‘within,’ you can know that it is ALWAYS THERE at any time, underneath those impulses and those thoughts.
Charlotte’s Insights: In a short time, I went from what felt like one side of a dark void into the brightest light of a life. It really felt like a heaven and hell comparison. It shows that life just does not stay in one place forever; good things do happen and life can be beautiful.
I can’t tell you the answers. What I can say, though, is that strength can be found in all of us. Learning to accept the past and not let it define you, understanding that problems are temporary and things do get better – that helps. Uncovering your purpose – like I have with writing – it can do wonders for remembering your resilience. It can remind you that you are a warrior and you are able to achieve whatever you dream – if only you stand up and keep trying, in this moment!
It’s All Within
All of that – heaven, bright light, beauty, the perseverance and strength – is within you. Even though the hell seems like it comes from you at times when you are experiencing dark thinking, it is just thought and not from the truthful you.
It Will Pass
I love how you see that the darkness passes, like it did before. It can even pass in a second – we see things differently, moment to moment. You sum this up beautifully in the explanation that things are temporary and always get better. They already are better, underneath our thought that they aren’t.
Your Dreams are the Truth
You writing is you, your warrior is you and your dreams are you – but they are not dreams; they are the truth. So, stand up and ‘do’ – and know that nothing can stop you because you are already whole and complete – you are already all of your dreams! You are resilience.
Charlotte’s Insights: I love your comments, we are so similar and on the same wave length. It’s so beautiful when you meet someone who just understands you and wants to lift you up!
Nicole’s Insights: Thank you, Charlotte, for sharing your story so perfectly.
Thank you for reading this. Please reach out if this is something that you want to discuss further. The truth is; you are always ok – even when you don’t feel it. Trust us.
Charlotte and Nicole
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